This is the fifteenth in our series of job market posts this year.
For better or for worse, social norms have profound influence on many of the decisions we make—from political to personal. These norms can be particularly influential when it comes to making decisions surrounding child rearing, including the decision parents make to participate in the practice of female genital cutting (FGC). Parents living in communities that practice FGC—located primarily in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia—decide whether or not their daughter will undergo FGC based on social pressure and the perceived costs and benefits of adhering to or deviating from the social norm.
The practice has no known medical benefits, and it is associated with a wide range of health complications, both physical and psychological. Women who undergo FGC are more than twice as likely to experience birthing complications (Jones et al., 1999), and are 25 percent more likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases (Wagner, 2014). In addition, women who have undergone FGC are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (Dorkenoo, 1999; Behrendt & Moritz, 2005). These health complications make working in and outside of the household more difficult.
- The Call for Papers is up for the World Bank’s Annual Bank Conference on Africa. The theme is “The Challenges and Opportunities of Transforming African Agriculture.” The conference is June 2017 at UC Berkeley. Papers are due February 24. (Some support is available for African presenters whose work is accepted.)
- Thomas Schelling, winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2005, passed away this week. You can read about his life and work from Henry Farrell at the Washington Post, William Grimes at the New York Times, Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution, or elsewhere.
- We are in the home stretch of our Job Market Series: We will have 17 posts in total, with the three final posts to come next week. You can easily find all the posts in one place here.
- A new Finance & PSD Impact note highlights the results of an experiment which tries to formalize firms in Benin by enhancing the benefits of formalization.
- Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution has a good summary and very nice things to say about Das et al.’s new AER paper comparing private and public health care in India, using “standardized patients” (or mystery clients, as they are sometimes called).
- Education Next collects its 20 most popular articles of 2016, including prominent education economists like Eric Hanushek, Thomas Kane, Dan Goldhaber, Ludger Woessmann, and others.
- Ahmed et al. report the good news and the bad news on child marriage in Bangladesh at the IFPRI Research blog.
- Nabaneeta Biswas writes about the heterogeneous impacts of women’s electoral success on girl survival in India at the Economics That Really Matters blog.
As we enter the holiday season (you know, the solstice), here’s a bit of advice for you.
- Bruce Wydick offers a behavioral economics argument for gift cards over cash as gifts. (I completely agree with him.)
- If you’re insistent on physical objects, a host of news outlets have put together their best economics books of 2016 lists: Diane Coyle for FiveBooks, Robert Samuelson for the Washington Post, Martin Wolf for the Financial Times, Büchshelf, and The Vore.
- Plus, here are the best books from Foreign Affairs, and Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution’s best fiction and nonfiction. (My favorite books of the year so far – both novels – are Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing & Igoni Barrett’s Blackass.)
- I couldn’t find good lists of the best international development books for 2016. If you’ve seen them (or if you make one), add them in the links!
This is the fourteenth in our series of job market posts this year.
Despite massive increases in school enrolment in developing countries, learning levels have lagged behind. But the range in average student achievement is large: In the 2012 PISA assessment (of 15-year-olds), Vietnamese students got higher scores than those in the US and the UK, but Peru ranked last (OECD 2012). The magnitude of the gap between these two developing countries was 1.4 standard deviations (SD); for comparison the difference between the US and Finland was 0.38SD.
My job market paper answers the question of how much of this gap reflects differences in the productivity of the schooling systems, as opposed to other factors such as nutrition, early childhood shocks, or endowments – a critical policy question relevant to the substantial education spending around the world.
Malaria is preventable and treatable – but it is still deadly. In 2015, there were 214 million cases of malaria and an estimated 438,000 deaths. Nearly nine in ten cases occur in Sub-Saharan African, and the direct and indirect costs of this burden are high.
- Solving social problems with machine learning – Kleinberg, Ludwig and Mullainathan in the Harvard Business Review
- From VoxEU, the disappointing impact of employment subsidies in Spain (including discussion of using RD when firms sort around the threshold)
- Vox covers a new paper in Science on the impact of M-Pesa on poverty in Kenya
- The Book of Spurious Correlations
- JPAL/MIT Masters in data, economics, and development policy
- David Roodman at Givewell delves into depth at assessing the case for deworming
- development impact links
This is the tenth in our job market paper series this year.
In developing countries, the high costs of credit along with varied impediments to saving, make it challenging for people to raise large sums of liquidity needed for large and indivisible, or “lumpy,” expenditures. An emerging body of evidence has shown how these constraints push people towards second-best strategies to address their financial needs (Collin et al. 2009 and Banerjee and Duflo 2007). My job market paper, “Gambling, Saving, and Lumpy Expenditures: Sports Betting in Uganda”, looks at the behaviors of 1,715 bettors in Kampala, Uganda and provides evidence that unmet liquidity needs push people towards sports betting as an unexpected alternative method of liquidity generation.
Teachers’ attendance can be improved if they are monitored by head-teachers using mobile technology, but only if the associated reports trigger bonus payments.
Can high-stakes decentralized monitoring improve civil servant performance, or will it lead to collusion between the monitor and civil servant? And what happens to the quality of information when we raise the stakes of reports?